Strong opinions, weakly held

The economics of raid lockouts in World of Warcraft

Interesting post from Greg Street, the lead game systems designer for World of Warcraft, explaining why they are changing the game so that you can’t do the same raid more than once a week.

Some of you guys are coming from the angle that players should take responsibility for not playing more than they want to. I agree with that of course, but I also think the game design should not be something that puts that kind of pressure on you. We don’t want to make a game full of traps or temptations that you should have to resist. It’s more fun, I think, if what the game asks of you is reasonable. Killing the same boss twice or four times (as in ToC) or an unlimited number of times (as in the “no loot” model) doesn’t seem reasonable. Neither does having to play Alterac Valley hundreds of times in a weekend to get a prestigious PvP rank. Neither does having to grind for consumables for hours every week before raid night. All of those things are theoretically “features” that players could have shown some common sense and opted out of, but realistically they were just boneheaded design decisions that we needed to fix.

It’s this sort of real systemic thinking about how games work that make Blizzard’s games the best.


  1. I’m not sure this is really unique — I play a fairly low-tech game called Kingdom of Loathing, and those guys think about this stuff all the time. how to balance new content, how to make sure that playing at a “competitive” level doesn’t require too much sacrifice of real life, how a game can cater to all the different types of players and their styles (speed, meandering, casual, serious, etc.), how to prevent too much “grinding,” and how to make randomness “feel random”, etc.

    what makes Blizzard a powerhouse is obviously some of that, plus great integration of graphics, social play, and creative content (with lots of updates). keeping it all in the air…

  2. I think Kingdom of Loathing is a pretty serious work of genius.

  3. well, I can’t disagree with you there! :))

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